First-of-its-kind initiative among America’s leading podcasters has reached more than 1.6 million people Podcast
The Pro-Democracy Podcast Coalition, a first-of-its-kind initiative among America’s leading podcasters that have reached millions of listeners, is launching its second campaign Tuesday. For the next several weeks, participating podcasts have committed to run powerful, nonpartisan messages on their shows to give listeners actionable tools to protect free and fair elections ahead of the 2022 midterms. Each podcast message will direct listeners to a RepresentUs website where they can learn more about the threats America’s elections face and take action.
The focus of this effort is on supporting America’s election workers. Across the country, extremists are trying to take over elections by bullying these nonpartisan officials into resigning, and then replacing them with authoritarian-minded people who might not accept election results. Some signs indicate that their strategy is working. In a recent survey, one in five election workers said they’re likely to quit before 2024 – due in large part to relentless harassment.
“Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, I think most of us agree that in a functioning democracy, the winner should be determined by the voters. That almost didn’t happen in 2020,” said RepresentUs CEO Joshua Graham Lynn. “In some places, it came down to just a few election administrators who stood up to authoritarians and refused to fudge the numbers. Now, extremists are working to intimidate and replace nonpartisan election workers with ‘yes men’ who might reject election results – and they could pull it off if we don’t push back.”
The Coalition, created by RepresentUs and coordinated by podcast host Jody Avirgan, officially launched in February. The partnership currently consists of 13 podcast networks that oversee more than 200 shows, including Radiotopia from PRX, Pushkin Industries, and Sonoro Media. The participating shows and hosts run the gamut in terms of topics, format, and demographic reach. Because of the immediate threats America’s democracy faces, they felt compelled to use their platforms to help protect it.
Since the launch, the Coalition’s pro-democracy messages have reached at least 1.6 million listeners across at least 14 individual shows, driving thousands of listeners to the RepresentUs website. Notable podcasters recorded spots for the first campaign, including Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pashman, Kellie Carter Jackson, and Avery Trufelman.
“I had a hunch that the podcast community would be able to rally around these critical issues, and watching the first campaign bore that out,” said Avirgan. “The messages that our hosts recorded were passionate, convincing, and I think will cut through the noise to let listeners know that yes, this is a perilous moment. But there are things we can all do to fix it. I hope and believe that our listeners will be motivated to go to the front lines of protecting our democracy.”
“America’s election workers are the backbone of our democracy, and they deserve our gratitude and support. It’s appalling to see public servants experiencing harassment and even death threats,” said RepresentUs National Organizing Director Jenny Zimmer. “Whether you send your election clerk a letter of support, push back against election misinformation in your community, or sign up to be an election worker yourself – all of us can play a part in protecting our democracy.”
RepresentUs is America’s leading nonpartisan organization fighting to protect and strengthen democracy. We unite unlikely allies from across the political spectrum who put the country over the party to pass pro-democracy laws, fight corruption, and defeat authoritarian threats. We have won more than 150 victories in cities and states across America since our founding 10 years ago. Each win is one step closer to our vision of making America the world’s strongest democracy.
Jody Avirgan is a podcast host, producer, and editor. He is the host of the Radiotopia show “This Day In Esoteric Political History,” and serves as story editor and executive producer for a number of projects, most recently “The Line,” from Apple Podcasts; and Adam McKay’s “Death at the Wing.” From 2017-to 2020, he ran and hosted 30 for 30 Podcasts, part of ESPN Films, and prior to that he was the host of the “FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast.”